When her abusive husband left for work, "Martha" put the spare set of car keys in one plastic bag, the children's birth certificates in another and buried them in the ground.
She had been talking to people at her local domestic violence shelter for months about safety planning.
A friend helped Martha set up a savings account and help her make deposits. She picked Martha's children up from school and met them at the appointed place and took them to the room waiting for them at the shelter.
Martha's name is a fiction. Her story is not.
She was a woman who came through the domestic violence shelter in St. Louis, where therapist Gerry Bailey once worked.
Bailey is the executive director of Time Out in Payson, which is a domestic violence shelter.
"Martha's husband had very tight controls over what she did and how she moved around. Every day for several weeks, she stashed getaway items in the wooded area near her home," Bailey said.
Statistics show that one in three victims of domestic violence need to go to a community shelter, Bailey said.
She may have friends or relatives who will help her. She (or he) may just need an active listener, a support person, someone to help her plan, so she/he can leave safely.
The volunteers and staff of Time Out are there to listen 24/7 at (928) 472-8007, she said.
Time Out has served 341 community residents in the last fiscal year, 324 women and children and 17 men.
"We have no pro bono attorney services in Payson, and many victims/survivors lack the financial resources to seek legal aid in other counties. Today, we offer a broad range of lay legal advocacy services, such as court accompaniment, orders of protection, some dissolutions of marriage, with or without children, injunctions against harassment, child custody, etc.," Bailey said.
Most women in Time Out's shelter are in the 20 to 40 age bracket, but there are occasionally seniors. It is open to women, men and their children from any geographic region.
Violence impacts conflict resolution
When a woman and her children come to Time Out they start learning what healthy behaviors are.
"When moms are experiencing abuse, sometimes they do not understand the effect that has on the children who witness the abuse," Bailey said.
"Little boys who see abuse in their home are most likely to grow up and become abusive," she added.
According to 2003 report compiled by the American Medical Association Alliance's Stop America's Violence Everywhere: "Violence found on television and in movies and videos affects children of all ages, genders and socioeconomic levels. Too often, children begin to imitate the violent behavior seen and become less sensitive to the pain of others."
Circumstances that Bailey said can change the pattern of violent behavior include: Intervention, education, listening to people talking about why abuse is wrong, and the strength to make and keep the decision not to abuse.
"No one deserves to be abused. If you make it in this work five years, you have developed a passion. It becomes a purpose," Bailey said. She has spent 15 years of her career in a shelter setting.
Signs of abuse a lay person could notice:
- Controlling behavior on the partner's part
- The possible victim is in a panic if they are a few minutes late
- The possible victim reports their whereabouts to their partner constantly
- Suspicious bruises and abrasions that seem frequent and/or outside the norm
"I always tell people there are five things you can say to someone if you suspect abuse," Bailey said.
- You don't deserve to be abused.
- I am concerned for your safety.
- I am concerned for the safety of your children.
- The abuse will probably get worse.
- There are help sources available.
Time Out's hotline is: (928) 472-8007 or (800) 799-7233.
911 domestic violence calls most common
Domestic violence (DV) ranks among the most common 911 calls to police statewide. And a new report reveals that the victims making the calls -- and the professionals working in Arizona's criminal-justice system -- say the state's response is at risk of failing.
"System Alert: Arizona's Criminal Justice Response to Domestic Violence, published by Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University, finds that, despite important strides made over the past three decades, the state's criminal justice system is too often falling short of its goals of achieving victim safety and offender accountability. The report was commissioned by the Governor's Commission to Prevent Violence Against Women.